When I was 16, I heard God speak to me for the first time – “You’ll never want for anything,” He said. A few years later, “If you plan, you can have anything you want” dropped in my spirit as an addendum. Although I am not exempt from getting carried away by worry, remembering God’s over 10 year old promise to me is grounding. I’ve used it as a single tool in some of my worst battles and won, developing a David and Goliath saga of my own.
For those who may not be familiar with 1 Samuel 17, at the time of the story, David was an Israelite sheep keeper who’d been anointed King just one chapter before. Although it would be several years before he actually claimed his throne, in 1 Samuel 17, David represented Israel in a daunting battle against a huge rival, the Philistines. David’s single battle task was to defeat an over 9 foot tall giant named Goliath – a job every member of the Israelite army cowered at the thought of. Now it’s important to note that David’s courage was met with resistance – his older brother (an Israelite soldier) accused him of being a showoff and the Israelite king was sure he’d be annihilated, warning him as such. More important to note is that the king – after realizing nothing he could say would convince David against the battle – offered him a sword and armor and David refused it, instead opting to carry a sling and five smooth stones (verse 40).
David defeated Goliath that day – without even breaking a sweat, and I’m convinced that with the proper tool, you too can destroy all traces of the Goliaths in your life. Discovering your sling will grant you access to a peace that surpasses all understanding and no matter what circumstances you find yourself in, your sling will act as confirmation that better days are coming. So, how do you determine what is it? Ask.
Discerning the voice of God can be complicated, especially for new Christians. Being unable to remember a time when you’ve felt His presence – let alone heard Him speak – is overwhelming, because you lack a baseline to compare current/future encounters to. I wanted so badly to hear God when I began a personal spiritual journey. Thanks to my mom, I’d attended church all my life, but due to spending several years in a spiritually abusive ministry where individual revelation was equated to sin, learning to pinpoint when God was speaking to me and what He was saying was a tough and embarrassing process. Keeping James 1:5 (“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and it shall be given to him.”) in front of me, I remained determined to perfect the craft of hearing Him, realizing that asking doesn’t always yield immediate results.
“Failing forward” is how I’d describe the process to learning what God sounds like, what His presence feels like, and what life looks like when His hand is at work. Over the course of nine years, I psyched myself into hearing, feeling, and seeing something and calling it Him countless times, forcing situations and creating a questionable reputation for myself along the way. Aside from growing a preeeetty tough layer of skin, I learned something extremely important – what God DIDN’T sound like, what His presence DIDN’T feel like, and what life DIDN’T look like when His hand was at work. I know that sounds like a daunting place to end up after nearly a decade of trying, but learning can only be achieved by people willing to sacrifice the desire to always be right.
Today, as you search for your sling (a grounding word of confirmation you can recall when life looks contrary to it), travel one of two action plans: If you’re familiar with God’s voice, spend time in quiet meditation, asking Him to bring the promises He’s made to you to your remembrance. He will lead you to the Bible, dropping verses into your spirit that strengthen your assurance in the message He’s communicating. Once you’re confident in what you’ve heard, felt, and seen, write what He’s shared with you and post it in a place where you’ll see it frequently. Remember, your sling doesn’t have to be page or even a paragraph, it can be a sentence, phrase, or even just a word. Also remember that God can and may add to it in the future. If you don’t think/aren’t sure that God has ever spoken to you, spend time in quiet meditation, asking Him to condition your heart, mind, and spirit for a word from Him. Tell Him that though you’re afraid of the being wrong that’s required to recognize right, you’re committed to the journey. Ask Him to guide and comfort you, protecting you from any distress that learning to hear Him may bring. Remind yourself that the root word of humiliation is humility – an essential characteristic for believers to have. And lastly, read Deuteronomy 28 and Hebrews 11 (at your own pace), using the suggested reference verses and commentary in your Bible to lead you to other scriptures. As you repeat the process of asking, telling, and reading daily, be certain to also focus on listening, feeling, and seeing, trusting that eventually, a word forward will be communicated to you and though you may interpret it incorrectly, interpreting it at all is more important! ♥